Excited, die-hard Braves fans filled the stands, sports reporters voiced their optimism and the Braves drumline in The Battery Atlanta created a competitive and energetic atmosphere for game five of the National League Division Series (NLDS) at SunTrust Park. Unfortunately, this hope and fire would not translate to the baseball field, where the Braves lost in true tragicomic fashion to the St. Louis Cardinals 13-1.
Up until game five, the series was extremely close with a combined margin of victory of only seven runs in the first four games, with three of those games being decided in the eighth inning or later. The fifth game was not expected to be any different, but that all changed when the Cardinals scored 10 runs in the first inning of the game, the most runs scored in the first inning of a postseason game in MLB history.
The first inning went like this:
· Sac bunt
· Fielder’s choice
· Intentional walk
· Fly out
· Strikeout (dropped third strike)
Braves fans had little to cheer about after the first inning, and the one run scored was a solo home run by Josh Donaldson in the bottom of the fourth inning. That was it.
“I was heartbroken,” said Phillip Brown, a Braves fan and UWG Senior. “This was the closest the Braves have gotten to making a World Series run in a long time, and they had the talent to do so, but in the end they choked like any other Atlanta team.”
This loss also happened amidst a tomahawk chop controversy concerning Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley, who criticized the chant, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“I think it’s a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general. Just depicts them in this kind of caveman-type people way who aren’t intellectual,” said Helsley. “It’s not about me being offended by the whole mascot thing. It’s not. It’s about the misconception of us, the Native Americans, and it devalues us and how we’re perceived in that way, or used as mascots. The Redskins and stuff like that.”
Due to the commentary, the Braves responded by not putting out foam tomahawks in each seat, a postseason game tradition. They also stated they would not play the beat of the chant while Helsley was in the game, but he never got called in to pitch.
Some Braves fans support the Native Americans’ concerns, while other Braves fans are hoping this will not hinder the chop tradition from continuing. The one thing all the Braves fans agree upon is their shared disappointment of the fifth game flop.